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The Court is the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey.
In brief my question is what rules govern the exchange of Discovery before a party can move for Summary Judgment? The Plaintiff filed a Motion for Summary Judgment without providing a sufficient response to the Defendant’s Discovery requests. What is the Defendant’s recourse to avoid having to reply to this Motion for Summary Judgment without the benefit of Discovery at this time?
• Defendant filed for bankruptcy.
• Plaintiff filed a Complaint to Determine Dischargeability of Debts Arising from Divorce Proceeding.
• Plaintiff requested discovery which Defendant provided in full.
• Defendant requested discovery (asking the exact same Interrogatories and NTP that the Plaintiff asked plus a few additional to clarify several accusations in their Complaint).
• Plaintiff’s discovery responses were all general objections to every request (no claim of privilege or confidentiality was made).
• Upon receipt, Defendant rejected Plaintiff’s discovery responses and called for more specific answers.
• Plaintiff immediately filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to be heard in 35 days.
• »» Defendant is now forced to reply to Motion for Summary Judgment without the benefit of discovery.
It was my understanding that everyone is entitled to the right of discovery by the rules of Civil Procedure. How can the Defendant be denied this right and be forced to reply to this Motion for Summary Judgment at this time? If he had the Plaintiff’s discovery responses he would be able to fully make his defense and may even desire that this case be decided on Summary Judgment and save the time and expense of a trial.
Thank you for your thorough answer and references.
There are issues of material fact in dispute. Although the defendant’s primary defense will be to argue that the entire complaint should be denied because all of the debt is dischargeable, the complaint contains claims and allegations that state total amounts sought in multiple categories without explaining how they were calculated or even citing where they obtained their figures from.
Accordingly, the defendant needs the facts behind these amounts sought to supplement his defense in case he loses the argument regarding dischargeability on any or all categories of this debt and a money judgment is filed against him.
I need some clarification: Is the defendant’s objection to the motion for summary judgment a separate submission that precedes his actual detailed reply/response to it or are they one in the same? Will there be another, earlier hearing scheduled regarding the objection? (Apologies, I do not know the correct legal terms to use)
What is the process for objecting to the motion for summary judgment? Exactly what does the defendant need to do and by when?
Specifically, what are the deadlines?
• for filing an objection to summary judgment
• for the judge to approve/deny the objection that summary judgment is inappropriate at this time
• for filing the reply/response with the defendant’s entire defense to the Motion for Summary Judgment
Obviously if the objection is granted, the defendant’s attorney does not need to prepare the reply to the Motion for Summary Judgment at this time without having the Plaintiff’s answers to his discovery requests.
Please also note that in the plaintiff’s attorney’s Certification for the Motion for Summary Judgment he states “The parties have exchanged discovery in the form of Interrogatories, Demand for Documents and Requests for Admissions.” Technically, this is a true statement, but the facts are that the defendant responded in excruciating detail and to the best of his ability to every one of the plaintiff’s requests whereas the plaintiff refused to respond to anything. The defendant has sent two letters to plaintiff’s attorney. The hearing for the Motion for Summary Judgment is less than three weeks away.
Thank you again for your time and expertise.
PS - Tomorrow I will post another important but unrelated bankruptcy question. That one is very straight forward. I want to give you the heads up in case you are interested.
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